THE STRANGE CASE OF LAURA PLUMMER
Ever hear of Laura Plummer? I bet not. And you likely never would have if it were not for a peculiar set of circumstances which placed Laura in a most unenviable situation.
Laura Plummer is a British citizen who, while travelling abroad, became involved with an Egyptian man. They fell in love and so on and according to several reports, he had some back problems which were troubling to them both.
On a trip to Egypt Laura, a shop worker, thought to remedy the situation a bit by bringing her friend 290 Tramadol pills. Unbeknowst to Laura, the trap was set when she packed them in a clear plastic bag and placed them on top of her things in her travel bag, a trap which would lead her to a mandatory 3 year sentence in an Egyptian prison.
Her innocent act of kindness turned into the worst nightmare imaginable as life in an Egyptian prison does not bring with it the benefits we have come to expect in western jails, Satellite tv, 3 meals a day, regular exercise, a bit of sunlight perhaps, a modicum of privacy? Forget all of these. Instead, Laura finds herself today in an overcrowded jail, without a bed or a blanket, using a pack of sanitary napkins for a pillow on the floor, and she depairs knowing she will be spending the next three years of her life in this deplorable state.
How could this happen? In short, not all legal systems function alike. And this is one of the risks everyone should be aware of when visiting some of the more human-rights challenged lands on the planet. If you find yourself, like Laura, in a prison such as this one, what options do you have? The decision to show you mercy does not rest with your parents, or your friends, or even the political leaders of your birth country. It lies entirely with the authorities in the country where you, whether inadvertently or not, breeched the law. And the possible punishments are not limited to the humane as they are in the west. Some offences for instance, carry the death penalty. No doubt in Egypt, it will be argued that Laura deserved far worse than the 3 year sentence she received!
The problem lies in the way medications are treated differently in terms of legality in various countries. According to wikipedia, for instance:
"Effective August 18, 2014, tramadol has been placed into Schedule IV of the federal Controlled Substances Act in the United States. In addition, many states, including Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois, Mississippi, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wyoming and the U.S. military have already classified tramadol as a Schedule IV controlled substance under state law.
Tramadol is classified in Schedule 4 (prescription only) in Australia, rather than as a Schedule 8 Controlled Drug (Possession without authority illegal) like most other opioids.
Effective May 2008, Sweden classified tramadol as a controlled substance in the same category as codeine and dextropropoxyphene, but allows a normal prescription be used currently.
The UK classified tramadol as a Class C, Schedule 3 controlled drug on 10 June 2014, but exempted it from the safe custody requirements."
Egypt, apparently frowns on this particular drug and so, whether Laura was trying to bring it into Egypt openly or attempting to hide the fact is irrelevant. The law was broken and punishment must ensue. Tramadol is in fact an opiate.
This case illustrates the tragedy of laws with minimum sentences, with no regard to the intentions of the perpetrator, in this case noble, trying to allieviate her friend's pain. Even the fact that she made no attempt to hide the pills but deliberately exposed them to authorities makes no difference in this case. One would think that showing them to the border officers could have been seen as a request for permission to bring them into Egypt rather than an attempt at smuggling them, but no. If it had been seen as a request, perhaps a simply shaking of the head together with a destruction of the pills would be adequate.
As it now stands, the family, the boyfriend, her other friends and of course Laura herself have no choice but to endure the sentence, the pain of separation and possible injury or death in an uncontrollable environment. And perhaps the most pitiable part is that Laura is a young and beautiful girl with her life ahead of her. Should she really have to endure such suffering, all for the crime of attempting to alleviate the suffering of her friend in a world where caught-red-handed murderers are routinely set free on the defense of insanity? In a world where terrorists like Omar Kdhar are given 10.5 million dollars as a settlement for their pain and suffering by the Canadian government?
Donate to her fund. Pressure your politicians. Perhaps common sense will rear its ugly head and bring about the desirable result for a change... the release and full pardon of Laura Plummer. I'm sure she will never make such a mistake again, and neither will anyone familiar with her story. And dear Egyptian authorities: your point has been made.
And here's a recent clip of a conversation with Laura's sister Rachel:
" Laura had with her a mixture of painkillers packed in her suitcase all in original boxes in a pharmacy bag, 290 tramadol and 114 naproxen, just a bag of painkillers to Laura but to egypt she may as well of brought heroin in because that’s what the class Tramadol as! The naproxen is not a banned drug so these where no a problem, but does that not tell the world that she was really just bringing them for pain relief? She doesn’t know anything about tramadol or naproxen for that matter , all she knew is that they where a good painkiller for back pain."
Recent development! Laura has been moved to a less crowded cell , she has food and water and a bed for the first time since her arrest! She is in the same cell as another British woman and they are getting on great together,,Her message to us was not to worry about her!
February 15, 2018
It appeared for a time almost certain that Laura would be shown mercy and released, however, after an agonizing wait the family learned this would not be the case! The emotional torture continues for the family...